June 20, 2018

Taking customer experience to the next level with immersive technology

Ksenia Avetisova

Head of Enhanced Reality Lab & Strategic Innovation Lead, Data-Driven Businesses, Tieto

Humans are social creatures. We suffer from being lonely. We love to share our ideas, feelings and emotions with others. Over the centuries we have developed new ways of connecting to one another - from conversation to images, writing, photography and sound and motion pictures as forms of expression.

Technology advancements in the last centuries have enabled humans to create experiences for others to plunge into, making it easier to step beyond the dialogue, and into broadcasting as well as multi-party real-time conversation.

Now we witness the new medium of immersive experience on the rise. As with most visionary innovations the journey for Extended Reality enabling these immersive experiences is longer than most realise as the early explorations date back to 1950s. It’s been hyped in recent years, and 2014 is considered the year that gave virtual reality a real boost with Facebook buying Oculus VR. But even today there is a lot of uncertainty about the technology, its use cases, challenges to be solved and even vocabulary to describe the spectrum of immersive computing. Let’s establish the common understanding with these simple definitions:

  • Augmented reality (AR) overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment.
  • Mixed reality (MR) not just overlays but anchors virtual objects to the real world.
  • Virtual reality (VR) immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment.

All together Virtual, Augmented and Mixed reality - and everything in between that is still be uncovered - is referred to as Extended Reality, or XR for short.. Immersive experiences are build on either one of the above mentioned techniques, or their combination.

But why should we care? In the last few years of running Tieto XR Lab I’ve seen how this previously difficult question has become a very easy question to answer. The change is inevitable and it is coming fast. Major analytics companies including Gartner and Forrester are betting on XR to become the next revolutionary computing platform, impacting everything starting from entertainment to industrial cases and consumer business, with greatest impact predicted in medicine, education and retail. The level of investment in AR/VR reached record high of 3B USD in 2017, with roughly half of the volume hit in the last quarter. This is only the beginning, the estimated value of VR/AR market is expected to reach 108B USD* in revenue in 2021. (* Digi-Capital)

There is a long way to go for mainstream adoption, no doubt in that. Yet that shouldn’t stop us investigating the possibilities on how can XR help to improve the customer journey. Immersive technologies can engage customers like never before by offering authentic, highly-personalised and contextual experience for the users. Bundled in development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data, 5G connectivity and blockchain, it creates the ultimate playground for revolutionising current CX and bringing it to the next level. From business strategy perspective - XR shouldn’t be seen as a separate track running alongside your business operations but rather as integral part of your omnichannel experience with possibility to shift easily between the channels.

Tieto XR Lab is looking into immersive tech from both perspectives, as well as experimenting with the solutions via our extensive partner ecosystem. In search of better CX we have created immersive service concepts in areas such as HR - bridging the gap of expectations and reality for job candidates, as well as retail - reenvisioning the whole essence of buying and selling via vCommerce. One of our top use cases is Virtual Forest, done in collaboration with Metsä and partners. It brings data from different sources to create a Digital Forest Twin and visualize it in a virtual environment. This allows forest owners to simulate forest maintenance before making decisions regarding their real assets.  

Once user seizes to be just a consumer of immersive experience and becomes an active actor in it, numerous issues arise. Few of the obvious are ethics, privacy and security, ownership of assets and co-created experiences and new business models to complement the existing ones. Still, now is the time to answer the question - how ready are you for the rise of the immersive experience from both business and personal perspective? While XR might not immediately change everything, it surely is on the trajectory to significantly impact the world!

The article is modified from the blog originally published on www.cxpa.fi

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